Legs Sore After Running? Try These 5 Things


Are your legs sore after running? Running is undeniably a great way to stay fit and healthy, but sore legs after running is a common and uncomfortable side effect. No matter if you’re just getting started or you’re an avid runner already, it’s important to know what causes your sore legs from running plus ways to prevent or relieve the muscle tension causing it.

Today, we’re discussing what makes your legs sore after running, prevention and relief tips, and the importance of downtime to let your body recover. Don’t get left on the sidelines, recover faster and get back on track.

Major Cause of Sore Legs From Running

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the most common cause of making your legs sore after running1. As the name suggests, it’s a condition that manifests anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days after you engage in physical activity like running. Symptoms of DOMS typically start 12 to 24 hours post-exercise and reach their worst between the 24 to 72 hour period.

The cause of sore legs after running results from microscopic damage to your muscle fibers while you’re exercising and can be more likely to happen if you’re starting a new workout routine or upping your intensity. This damage triggers an inflammatory response (DOMS) and is what leads to potential swelling or sore legs from running.

While DOMS isn’t usually overly dangerous to your overall health, it can certainly be uncomfortable. Following post-run recovery tips strengthens your leg muscles as they repair themselves and can provide relief now as well as potential prevention of future discomfort.

Ways to Relieve or Prevent Sore Legs After Running

As you’ve learned, having legs sore after running is a common experience for many runners no matter if they're beginners or seasoned athletes. While sore legs after running can be a sign of your muscles adapting and growing stronger, it’s uncomfortable and can impede your performance if you aren’t implementing the right post-workout recovery routine methods. 

The good news is there are numerous effective strategies you can implement to prevent or alleviate sore legs from running. A combination of muscle recovery techniques, active stretches, and other methods will have you back on your feet and ready to run again in no time.

(Running isn’t the only catalyst for muscle tension. Learn more about what causes muscle tension and its potential long-term effects after this.)

  1. Muscle tension relief
  2. Heat and cold therapy
  3. Compression gear
  4. Healthy Diet and hydration
  5. Massage

1. Muscle Tension Relief

One of the most obvious ways to alleviate DOMS or potentially prevent yourself from experiencing sore legs after running is to practice muscle tension relief methods. Techniques like stretching or using a foam roller after exercising won’t leave your legs sore after running and may jump start how the body heals itself.


Stretching after a run is essential for maintaining flexibility and reducing muscle tightness that leads to DOMS. It’s also beneficial for how to release chronically tight muscles, not just for having your legs sore after running. When you’re stretching, focus on key muscle groups like your calves, hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

Stretching helps to lengthen the muscles that contract during running. This reduces your risk of muscle knots and improves overall muscle function. Hold each stretch for around 30 seconds if you can to give you a gentle pull without any pain.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique you can use on sore legs after running that helps break up adhesions in the muscles and fascia. Using a foam roller promotes better blood flow to your muscles. This helps with faster recovery and reducing soreness from DOMS.

When you’re using a foam roller, roll your legs slowly across the roller, paying extra attention to any tight or tender spots. Spend about 1-2 minutes on each area to get the best results.

2. Heat and Cold Therapy

Heat and cold applications are also beneficial for legs sore after running. Each of these helps with pain relief, alleviating muscle tension, and getting blood flowing throughout your legs to speed up the recovery process. 

Heat Therapy

Applying heat to legs sore after running relaxes and loosens muscles increasing blood flow and making it less likely you’ll experience DOMS. You can do things like applying a heating pad, taking a warm bath, or using a heated zero gravity chair (more on that shortly) after your run to maximize their benefits.

Heat therapy may be especially beneficial before stretching or using a foam roller, as it helps to prepare the muscles for these activities.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy applications like ice packs or ice baths are used for reducing inflammation and numbing muscle pain. Applying ice packs to sore areas for 15-20 minutes can help minimize swelling and provide relief. Be sure to never apply a cold pack directly to your skin, however, as that can be dangerous and do damage to your skin and the tissue beneath.

Cold therapy is most beneficial immediately after a run to counteract the inflammation response from muscle stress. This is why you may see some athletes taking ice baths after competitions.

3. Compression Gear

Another way to combat sore legs from running is with compression gear. Compression garments like socks and tights are designed to improve blood circulation and reduce muscle vibration during and after running. These garments provide gentle pressure meant to prevent and alleviate soreness by facilitating better blood flow and reducing swelling after exercise. Wearing compression gear during recovery periods may boost your body’s muscle repair process and decrease the time needed to be fully recovered.

4. Healthy Diet and Hydration

Eating the right foods and drinking plenty of water is also key to healing legs sore after running. They contribute towards muscle repair and recovery, keeping your blood flowing and helping to alleviate any swelling that may occur. Make sure you’re getting enough lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, and legumes in your diet. You can also go for antioxidant-rich foods like berries, spinach, and kale while getting healthy fats from avocados, nuts, and seeds.

Dehydration is hard on your body and makes it much more likely you’ll experience DOMS and sore legs after running. Be sure you’re not only drinking enough water daily but increasing your water intake on days you’re more physically active. After a run, you might also look at electrolyte-rich beverages to help balance your body.

5. Massage

Massage therapy also works on legs sore from running to relieve muscle tension and help you relax. Getting regular massages works to break up muscle adhesions, improve circulation, and reduce tension in your muscles now and in the long term.

Whether you opt for professional massage sessions or more cost-efficient options like zero gravity air pressure massage chairs (or zero gravity vibration massage chairs, depending on the model you choose), incorporating massages into your recovery routine can positively impact legs sore after running and keep your muscles healthy.

Using a Zero Gravity Chair for Sore Legs After Running

Using a zero gravity chair will be a game-changer for you when you’re looking to alleviate sore legs after running. These chairs are designed to elevate your legs above your heart level and distribute weight evenly along your body. This position, called the zero gravity position, is the catalyst for the numerous potential health benefits of zero gravity chairs including:

  • Increased blood circulation: In the zero gravity position, blood flows more efficiently throughout your body, reducing swelling and speeding up muscle recovery to help legs sore after running.
  • Reduced muscle tension: Zero gravity chairs are ergonomic and distribute your body weight evenly when reclined. This design helps relieve excess pressure on your muscles and joints to provide pain relief, alleviate muscle tension, and heal more quickly.
  • Deeper relaxation: The reclined zero gravity position helps you deepen your relaxation. This helps lower stress levels and aids against sore legs from running.
  • Pain relief: The zero gravity position also helps alleviate pain and discomfort by reducing excess strain on the spine, fighting inflammation, and letting the tissue in your leg muscles relax.

These are just some of the potential health benefits of zero gravity chairs. These recliners aren’t just great for helping with sore legs but serve as the perfect seating option for people of all ages and lifestyles. Enjoy their comfort and support knowing your mind and body are also being taken care of while you relax.

So, are your legs sore after running? As you’ve learned, there are many ways to alleviate your discomfort and get back on your feet in no time. Knowing the most common cause of sore legs after running and how to prevent it from happening is key. Try out these methods and see which works best for you.

Disclaimer: This content is not medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare professional when considering implementing changes to your health or workout routines to ensure it’s compatible with your needs.

Additional Sources

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/doms